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Make low-sugar cranberry sauce in less than 15 minutes! This healthy whole cranberry compote recipe has a perfect balance of sweet and tart, with a hint of orange.
Thanksgiving dinner is just not complete without creamy mashed potatoes, delicious stuffing, and fresh, homemade cranberry sauce. Canned versions will be a thing of the past once you make this holiday staple yourself.
Cranberry sauce has to be sweetened. There's no way around it. Unlike many other fruits, you just can't pop the little berries in your mouth and enjoy them.
Luckily, it's easy to sweeten cranberry sauce with a reduced amount of sugar and keep it healthy. There's no need to mention it. Let the mouthwatering pop of flavor speak for itself.
You'll love this easy recipe because:
- It's simple to make and ready in less than 15 minutes.
- Only 3 ingredients are required, and it's easy to customize.
- You control the sugar content. Store-bought versions are often very sweet and laden with excess sugar.
- You can make it several days ahead of time, so there's one less thing to worry about on the big day.
- It's freezable! Make extra to enjoy year-round.
- There are many ways to use it, including on leftover turkey sandwiches, toppings for yogurt, and more.
- It's vegan, gluten-free, low-carb, and keto-friendly.
Only 3 ingredients are absolutely necessary to make low-sugar cranberry sauce. But there are many ways to jazz it up for the occasion.
- Cranberries - Use fresh or frozen cranberries. They usually come in a 12-ounce bag, which yields about 3 ½ cups of berries. Pick them over and discard any that are soft or damaged.
- Sweetener - A combination of sweeteners to equal ½ cup of granulated sugar. This is less than the amount often called for in the recipe on the package of fresh cranberries. We used ¼ cup of a Stevia blend and ¼ cup of table sugar. It's a compromise that I make often and nobody is the wiser!
- ⅓ cup of total sweetener may be enough. You can start with less and add to it after a taste test.
- Cranberry sauce can be entirely sweetened with sugar alternatives such as Stevia, Monkfruit, or Allulose to make it keto-friendly.
- Water - You can substitute all or part of the water with orange juice or apple juice. However, these ingredients will add to the sugar content too.
We added the zest of an orange and cinnamon for a floral twist. Adding these ingredients is optional. But the additional layer of flavor is nice!
Please see the recipe card at the bottom of this post for the complete list of ingredients with measurements plus recipe instructions.
Here's how to make whole cranberry sauce that's low in sugar:
- Combine cranberries, sweetener, cinnamon, and water in a medium-sized saucepan. The water will not cover the berries, and that's okay. The additional liquid will come as the berries burst and react to the sweetened water.
- Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally. Cook until the cranberries start popping and the mixture has reduced to a sauce consistency, about 10 minutes. You'll hear the pop when they burst and be able to easily mash with a fork if desired.
- Stir in orange zest and remove from the heat. Save a little zest to garnish the top at serving time.
- The pectin from the cranberries will continue to thicken the sauce as it cools.
Related recipe: Blueberry Compote
You may find that you can reduce the amount of sugar in your cranberry sauce even more by adding some of these ingredients:
- Stir in diced apples or pineapple.
- Use orange juice or apple juice instead of water.
- Add a small splash of bourbon, brandy, amaretto, or scotch whiskey for a boozy version.
- Add in vanilla extract.
- Other spices that can be used include fresh or ground ginger and allspice.
Looking for a no-cook recipe? Off Gridlife has an amazing one for apple orange cranberry relish!
Ways to Use Leftover Cranberry Sauce
You won't run out of ways to use leftover cranberry sauce. Here are some ideas:
- Slather it on your leftover Thanksgiving turkey sandwich.
- Add a scoop to plain yogurt or whipped cottage cheese before it's sweetened.
- It's fantastic spooned over steel cut oatmeal that cooked overnight in a slow cooker.
- Drizzle over pancakes, waffles, or pumpkin chaffles.
- Mix with cream cheese and slather on a bagel.
- Use it like jam on toast or in a recipe that calls for jam.
- Top cheesecake with it for a wintery twist.
Low-sugar cranberry sauce is meant to be made ahead of time!
- Refrigerate - Store in a tightly covered container for up to a week.
- Freezer - Store in a freezer-safe container for up to 2 months. Leave about an inch of space at the top to allow for expansion during the freezing process. When ready to enjoy, move to the refrigerator to defrost.
Have you passed by the packages of fresh cranberries that only come around once a year? Don't do it this year!
More Must-Try Holiday Recipes
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Low-Sugar Cranberry Sauce
- 12 ounces fresh cranberries Frozen cranberries may be used instead.
- ½ cup water or orange juice
- ½ cup Stevia Blend and/or Sugar we used ¼ cup Stevia and ¼ cup sugar
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon orange zest
- Combine cranberries, sweetener, cinnamon, and water in a medium-sized saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally.
- Cook until the cranberries have popped, and the mixture has reduced to a sauce consistency, about 10 minutes. Mash some of the cranberries with a fork, if desired.
- Remove the pot from the heat and stir in orange zest. Save a little to garnish with at serving time.
- The sauce will continue to thicken as it cools.